The Epic Fail

Everyone knows that great feeling that comes when everything just “clicks.” It starts first thing in the morning when you look in the mirror after a long soak, brush your hair, and say, “Oh, yeah, you got it going ON!” You never did get that haircut, you’re maybe packing around a couple more pounds than you’d like, but not a hair’s out of place and your clothes drape over you like they were tailored on Savile Row just for you. The bus is on time, your boss isn’t going out of their way to be an asshole, the work day flies by, and everything you need seems to be right at your fingertips.

This feeling has an opposite number. It’s the day when you get out of bed and there’s not enough hair styling products in the known universe to tame your mop, your complexion has literally gone volcanic overnight, everything fits all wrong, and you gulp down all the caffeine you possibly can just to function. Your boss is ragging about who knows what (because you’re too shell-shocked to really listen anyway), the bus is a half hour late, and you shuffle through your front door at the end of the day feeling like you’ve been dragged through a cactus patch bv your balls (or the female equivalent).

Writers have their own version of this. It comes when you get ready to send off that scorchingly, earth-changingly brilliant story, novel, or article that you just spent weeks, if not months, editing. You open the attachments dialogue and ask your computer to pretty-please, with sugar on top, cough up your deathless prose for public consumption. An hour of horrified looking later, you can’t find it. Anywhere. Under any possible permutation of the file name you remember attaching to it. Worse, you realize that you somehow managed to send the email to your agent, editor…or your preacher…by accident. If you sent it to your preacher, you’re probably okay, since the file wasn’t attached anyway. But he’s sure to pull you aside on Sunday and ask, “Blazing Hot Blondes: The Homecumming?” with more than a trace of disbelief.

We’re human too. We forget things. We get wrapped up in the moment and forget to hit “Save.” Or hit “Send” before it’s time, resulting in a premature ejaculation of white space all over someone’s screen where there should be a series of squiggles that represent thoughts, ideas, objects and people. Words, to put it another way. We don’t put in the link for that blog post we want the world to know about, so no one knows WHERE to go!

Some of our fails are entertaining. Some of them are downright painful. Some of them cost us money, literally. I’ve had a couple of epic fails that made me want to crawl under my chair, shred my contracts, and migrate to a remote South Sea island where the Internet is a myth and the odds of ever being seen or heard from again approach zero.

Suck it up. Your career isn’t dead until you couldn’t sell a story if it meant the damnation of your immortal soul. Besides, that horrifying error you pulled may not be anything of the sort; in fact, there is a way to take a screw-up like that and transmute it into pure gold.

How? You ask.

Simple. In this case, the writer who can keep a sense of humor, no matter how black, about the situation will pull through without mishap and maybe even attract some new fans. The one who falls to pieces, hides under their desk, refuses to answer the phone or check email and won’t move even if the zombie Apocalypse kicks off two doors down, predictably, will not. The publishing world isn’t that big, and you don’t want the rep of the overly sensitive writer whose thumb and mouth become one inseperable entity in times of stress or out and out crisis.
So you try not to make a misstep. But you will. Count on that.

When you do, have fun with it! Explain your mistake, own it, and be funny about it! Make obscure references to “Sesame Street.” Poke fun at yourself. Say something at the end of your email or post like, “This *facepalm* moment has been sponsored by Kodak and brought to you by the numbers 6 and 9 and the letter AAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!”

Trust me. I’ve done it. And I’ve learned that keeping your cool and your sense of humor intact when you’d rather scuttle off down a hole and only reappear after the dust settles from the Rapture can do wonders for your outlook on life. It certainly doesn’t seem to hurt other people’s outlook on YOU!

Thanks for letting me come by and take over your blog today, Judith!
It’s been a lot of fun. Don’t miss me tonight at www.blogtalkradio/katholmes/1212, where I’ll be reading an excerpt from “Angels Would Fall” and chatting with Kat about the writing life. And do swing by, where our lovely and gracious hostess will be tied to a chair until she gets at least 20 comments.
Help a girl out?

Pretty please?

Until next time,


J.S. Wayne


Anonymous said…
Happy Friday, everyone!
Happy friday to you J.S. Wayne. And a very excellent post.
Anonymous said…
Thank you, Vicki! I'm pleased to be here and THRILLED that you enjoyed it! :D
DA Kentner said…
Great article, JS.
Wow. It's Friday? Cool.
I can crawl out from under my desk in just a few hours.

Aside from frequently forgetting to attach attachments, I think my biggest gaff to date was sending a glowing thank you note to the wrong person - the one who had unpoetically turned me down. Oops.
Anonymous said…
OMG, David..I'd love to hear the whole story on that one! I'm assuming cranial trauma from multiple impacts between head and desk ensued?
Thanks so much for coming by!
kbcutter said…
Spot on JS. As usual.

We've all had our share of what we deem Epic Failures.

And you are correct, you MUST retain your sense of humor when the brain or the fingers malfunction.
J.S. Wayne said…
Hey, K.B.! Good to see you!
Personally, I'm just hoping I don't have a brain fart during my interview tonight. THAT would be embarrassing. Most of these are fairly private until I go running my big mouth; screw up on the radio, though...*shudder*
Thanks for coming by!
Amber Green said…
Okay, I know what I'm going to be listening to this evening.
J.S. Wayne said…
Hi, Amber! Thanks for being here today :)
Is that a tomato behind your back or are you just happy to see me? ;)
Margie Church said…
Js, you mean I'll be forgiven for exchanging saidisms for dangling participles? Holy Hannah! I'm saved. *The Churchlady sprinkles holy water on all her friends* Erm, Js, that water kinda sizzled on you have something you want to confess? Pretty please? *wiggles eyebrows* Seriously, when you "live" in the public you're gonna need to act human every now and then or nobody is gonna play with you. One of my most memorable ooopss...accidently sending a hate note about my boss to her.

I love watching you grow out here. It's so much fun.
Kat said…
You seriously had me cracking up here because its so sadly true.:-)
J.S. Wayne said…
@ Margie: Hey there! Thanks for coming over to play!
The holy water? Well, erm, funny story about that...actually, it's because I'm just that hot LOL. (Quickly slips on hat to conceal horns)
You're absolutely right; I think it puts people at ease to know that even people who make their living with words can sometimes do blisteringly stupid things with them. Some of my fails still make me chuckle and blush; some of them I pray no one will EVER hear about. Although, since I kinda put myself out here, I've really got no one to blame but myself.
O_o you sent a hate mail to your boss? Eep. That's one I haven't managed yet, but I've got a certain member of middle management who's in for an ear-cleaning when I finally break loose of my current and much-despised day job.
Thanks for weighing in!

@ Kat: I'm glad you enjoyed it. I like finding humor in things that make most people cringe, grimace, or move to Pango Pango under an assumed identity.
Thanks for coming by!
Lauren Fraser said…
Great post, JS.
I think my biggest doh,blunder was not backing up my computer. I lost an entire 90k novel as well as another half done one. Ouch. Lesson learned. BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP.
Lin said…
Absolutely briliant! I slip into my sluggery lamentations when I commit those inevitable boo boos we writers are all too prone to make...or as I have going on at one of my own blogs this very moment, THE PARADE OF PORCELAIN Pageant. You get to vote for the most UNUSAL commode displayed via Google pictures.

Humor...without it we'd be weeping INTO that commode istead of exposing the many personalities of the world's commodes.
J.S. Wayne said…
Thanks for being here, Lauren!
After a couple of run-ins with Windows Recover virus, I took to wearing a thumb drive in a little holster on my belt. Two thousands = backup time. It seems a little OCD, but the first time my hard drive crashes I know I'll be glad I had the foresight to be proactive.
That's a LOT of writing to lose...urgh. I hope you were able to recover at least some of it!

@ Lin: The Parade of Porcelain? Okay. After my interview at Blog Talk Radio, I'm SO going by to check that out!
You make a good point. Ya gotta laugh. If you can't do that, then what are you doing with your life, anyway?
Thanks for weighing in, and I'll definitely drop by later :D

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